OF PASSION & PROPOSITIONS: growing a non-balanced faith

6874balance_scale     When I was in the final stages of producing my doctoral dissertation I ate out a lot. Escapism, most likely. During one such luncheon at Panda East, a Chinese restaurant in Amherst, MA, I opened a fortune cookie which read— Nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished without passion. I thought of some of the great names throughout history for whom this proverb has proven true— Hammurabi, Moses, Alexander the Great, Jesus, Christopher Columbus, Albert Einstein, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Thomas Edison, Mother Teresa, Ronald Reagan— all were driven by passion and tenacity to accomplish something beyond themselves.

     Yet, the church in North America seems driven by balance— balance in life, in our families, in faith, in our behavior— moderation in all things, no rocking the boat. Straight-forward, rational explanations of life should suffice to renew the mind and focus our resolve. It is almost as if being out of balance, or slightly extreme in any way, is viewed as the real threat to the church and to the stability of our individual faith.

     But if Truth is primarily personal (though certainly not exclusively), found in the Person of Jesus Christ, there are some very critical implications for us that impact our Christian lives, balanced or otherwise, and how we exhibit our faith to others. This will probably flip me from the frying pan into the fire, but it is time we examined belief and emotion in light of Scripture. After a great deal of scrutiny, I must admit that I do not find a lot of only believe-ism in the Bible.

     In many churches across America, there are large banners running across the front or the back of the sanctuary— TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN. Now hear me out on this one. I find no fault with this banner. But I do find it curious that it seems to be all about the knowing. It is assumed that everything else will flow out of that, even the “making him known” part. There are many churches that excel in fulfilling the first part: teaching their members to know a great deal about their faith.  But I find very few exerting much effort in training their members to fulfill the second part: making Him known (to those outside the church). Most sorrowfully, our interface with those outside the church has become solely an effort to pass on the information about Christ, rather than any genuine immersion in the lives of normal people.

     Why is this? I fear it might be due to our fear of the outside, or, much worse, a simple desire to remain in control. If we learn anything in our walks of faith it must be that God is in control…, not us. I’ve often wondered if the failure of our evangelical culture in the West to be part of our culture is that we fear being out of control.

     We need to learn to grow a nonbalanced faith: one where God is in control, where we don’t have all the answers, in which our passion for people, and for our Lord, takes over our whole being. For reference, I point you to an account of the revival of religion in Northampton in 1740-1742 as was reported in “The State of Religion at Northampton in the County of Hampshire, About 100 Miles Westward of Boston.” The letter was published in The Christian History, January 14, 21, and 28, 1743, written by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, [ http://www.jonathanedwards.com/text/jeaccnt.htm ].

NEXT— Being a Christian in a New Era:  it’s a generational thing.

Balancing my faith on one foot…, now the other one; whoops,

  Gary

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Edges

Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, Edge, Edges, Balance, innovate,Are you on the cutting edge? How do the edges of your life box you in? You need a sharp edge. Don’t go over the edge. Pushing the edge of the envelope. Edgy. The edge of tomorrow. The edge of extinction.

Pick a phrase— edges are at every corner of our lives. Some are boundaries, protecting us from going over the edge. Others leave paper cuts (ouch!). Other edges cut our steaks, or kill our adversaries. Or, metaphorically, draw us to move forward, daring us to test our limitations. Other edges cut dividing lines between families, peoples, countries, and ideologies. In one way or another, we are all on the edge of something.

My personal preference is to be on the cutting edge as much as possible— an innovator, rather than a late adapter. Not that I have to have the latest and greatest; rather, I like to create the future before it gets here. That’s all.

Someone once said to me, “Gary, you never seem happy with the way things are.” I responded, “Why thank you.” He retorted, “No, I meant that as a criticism.” I had taken it as a compliment. Different side of the blade, I guess.

What are your edges? Do they box you in? Cut paths where there are none? Or leave you with paper cuts? Whenever you try to cut through society’s crap, you are bound to get a little scraped up yourself. Is it worth it to you? Is it worth it to make a difference? To be on the next cutting edge? To make a difference?

Maybe you do not need to be an innovator. [Which tends to have a high risk-factor.] But please, don’t drag the rest of us into the “safe,” good-ol’-days of our past. Those edges are dull.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary